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Tag:Keys To The Game
Posted on: October 25, 2011 5:20 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Stanford at USC

Posted by Chip Patterson

STANFORD WILL WIN IF: They can lock down defense on Robert Woods and shut down the Trojans' passing attack. The Barkley to Woods connection has been phenomenal all season, and the Trojans' rushing attack has not demonstrated enough consistency to really be a threat. Stanford's offense showed off the ground attack in the rout of Washington last week, and as long as the defense can neutralize Barkley they should avoid an upset on the road. The streak of beating their last 10 opponents by at least 25 points may come to a halt against the Trojans, but if the defense can limit USC to less than three touchdowns Andrew Luck and Co. should have no trouble taking care of the rest.

USC WILL WIN IF: They can force Stanford to commit turnovers and claim an early lead. With the NCAA sanctions preventing them from a Pac-12 title game appearance or bowl game, conference showdowns like this take a new level for the Trojans. USC has forced 10 turnovers in their last three contests, and nothing would fire up the Coliseum crowd quite like an interception of Andrew Luck. One thing Stanford has not been forced to do once this season is overcome a deficit on the road. Jumping out to an early lead would break the norm for the Cardinal. When trying to defeat a team in the midst of a 15-game winning streak, you would like to make the situation as abnormal as possible.

X-FACTOR: Robert Woods' health. Head coach Lane Kiffin says the star wide receiver has "a couple of injuries" and will miss some practice time this week. Woods is expected to play against the Cardinal on Saturday, but how effective he can be will play a huge role in USC's chances to pull the upset at home. Woods leads all Pac-12 receivers with eight touchdowns and 72 receptions on the season, while his 128.9 yards per game only trails Keenan Allen's 129.4 for the top spot. Freshman Marquise Lee has served as a talented compliment to Woods on the outside, but has only six receptions in his last two games.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 4:36 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Clemson at Georgia Tech

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: The Tigers play their game. Clemson has displayed a wealth of offensive talent in recent weeks that suggests there are no teams in the ACC that should out-duel the Tigers. Focusing on Sammy Watkins leaves DeAndre Hopkins open, and even when Andre Ellington and Mike Bellamy are on the sideline freshman D.J. Howard has shown he can be just as effective. Clemson is able to jump out to leads and force the opposition to play catchup. That's when the Tigers unleash Brandon Thompson and Andre Branch, two pleasant surprises in the pass rush game for defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. The biggest key down the stretch for Clemson is to maintain their focus and not look past any opponent. With 20+ true or redshirt freshman taking the field every Saturday, youth seems to be the only concern left on the schedule for the Tigers.

GEORGIA TECH WILL WIN IF: They can possess the ball for at least 40 minutes of game time. With an offense as explosive as Clemson's, the best defense is to keep Tajh Boyd and Co. off the field. Luckily, Paul Johnson's option based offense - when run effectively - gives the Yellow Jackets an opportunity to dictate the pace of the game. Georgia Tech has struggled in their last two games to keep drives alive, converting on less than half of their third downs in both losing efforts. The other key to the long, time-consuming drives is turning them into touchdowns. Georgia Tech has struggled in the kicking game this season, and field goals are not enough to hang with Clemson. Every A-back and B-back needs to be a threat, and Georgia Tech needs to turn long drives into seven points to pull the upset.

X-FACTOR: Georgia Tech's linebackers. The unit started off the season much-improved in their second year of Al Groh's 3-4 scheme. They were able to frustrate opposing offenses by using the extra linebacker to disguise blitzes and make plays in coverage. But the start of conference play lined up with injuries to starting linebackers Daniel Drummond and Jeremiah Attaochu. Both are finally have been deemed "100 percent" after suffering leg injuries against N.C. State on Oct. 1, and must play the best game of their seasons in order to knock off the Tigers. North Carolina was able to find some success in the first half by sending an extra rusher to get in the face of Tajh Boyd. Attaouchu has been the best pass rusher on the team this season, and needs to show up for the Yellow Jackets to have a chance.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 4:36 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Clemson at Georgia Tech

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: The Tigers play their game. Clemson has displayed a wealth of offensive talent in recent weeks that suggests there are no teams in the ACC that should out-duel the Tigers. Focusing on Sammy Watkins leaves DeAndre Hopkins open, and even when Andre Ellington and Mike Bellamy are on the sideline freshman D.J. Howard has shown he can be just as effective. Clemson is able to jump out to leads and force the opposition to play catchup. That's when the Tigers unleash Brandon Thompson and Andre Branch, two pleasant surprises in the pass rush game for defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. The biggest key down the stretch for Clemson is to maintain their focus and not look past any opponent. With 20+ true or redshirt freshman taking the field every Saturday, youth seems to be the only concern left on the schedule for the Tigers.

GEORGIA TECH WILL WIN IF: They can possess the ball for at least 40 minutes of game time. With an offense as explosive as Clemson's, the best defense is to keep Tajh Boyd and Co. off the field. Luckily, Paul Johnson's option based offense - when run effectively - gives the Yellow Jackets an opportunity to dictate the pace of the game. Georgia Tech has struggled in their last two games to keep drives alive, converting on less than half of their third downs in both losing efforts. The other key to the long, time-consuming drives is turning them into touchdowns. Georgia Tech has struggled in the kicking game this season, and field goals are not enough to hang with Clemson. Every A-back and B-back needs to be a threat, and Georgia Tech needs to turn long drives into seven points to pull the upset.

X-FACTOR: Georgia Tech's linebackers. The unit started off the season much-improved in their second year of Al Groh's 3-4 scheme. They were able to frustrate opposing offenses by using the extra linebacker to disguise blitzes and make plays in coverage. But the start of conference play lined up with injuries to starting linebackers Daniel Drummond and Jeremiah Attaochu. Both are finally have been deemed "100 percent" after suffering leg injuries against N.C. State on Oct. 1, and must play the best game of their seasons in order to knock off the Tigers. North Carolina was able to find some success in the first half by sending an extra rusher to get in the face of Tajh Boyd. Attaouchu has been the best pass rusher on the team this season, and needs to show up for the Yellow Jackets to have a chance.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:57 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 1:57 pm
 

Keys to the Game: South Carolina at Tennessee

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

SOUTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF: They can manage any kind of running game in the absence of Marcus Lattimore. The only fully healthy tailback on the Gamecock roster is freshman Brandon Wilds, who started the season on the fifth string. Wilds looked competent against Mississippi State in emergency duty but will no doubt need help--most likely from Bruce Ellington in Wildcat sets and from Connor Shaw himself on the zone read option and other quarterback keepers. (Though not known for mobility, Shaw has totaled 70 yards rushing in his two starts--and that's after removing sack yardage.) Shaw looked more than a little uneasy in the pocket against the Bulldogs and that was with Lattimore around; if Steve Spurrier can't find some sort of offensive balance, it seems unlikely Shaw's ready to quarterback the Gamecocks to a road SEC win singlehandedly.

TENNESSEE WILL WIN IF: Justin Worley is ready. Derek Dooley proved once again this week he isn't scared of rolling the dice, naming the true freshman the Vols' starting quarterback even after the veteran Matt Simms showed some command of the offense against Alabama. If Worley can hack it, the Vols will have a lot going for them: the backing of the Neyland Stadium home crowd, a previously moribund running game that inexplicably found its footing against LSU and Alabama behind tailback Tauren Poole, the abundant question marks on the Carolina offense, and a defense that for all its second-half woes did keep the Tide entirely in check for a half. But none of that will matter if Worley completes more passes the ball-hawking Gamecock secondary (fifth in the FBS with 14 picks) than he does to his own receivers, and a Carolina pass rush featuring Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney won't make things easy on him.

THE X-FACTOR: Neyland. It's been a house of horrors for opponents in the past -- particularly ones quarterbacked by, say, a sophomore making just his second road start without his All-American running back security blanket -- but the recent downturn in the Vols' fortunes has left a lot of unhappy customers in the crowd, dulling UT's formerly fearsome holme-field advantage. If Dooley's team can get out to a fast start and engage the orange masses, Shaw may not be able to get the boulder rolling back in the other direction. If a slow start brings out the boo-birds, though, it's Worley who might wind up wishing he was somewhere very different.

Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:03 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Florida vs. Georgia

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

FLORIDA WILL WIN IF: John Brantley
is indeed back under center, and if he plays like the quarterback he had been this 2011 season before the high-ankle sprain against Alabama. The 10 quarters of football the Gators played without him against the Tide, LSU and Auburn were all the evidence we needed to dismiss their chances without him, but if Florida gets back the QB who'd posted a QB rating of 152.58 for the year (good for second in the SEC if he had enough attempts), they'll be able to get their licks in. Not necessarily because Brantley's going to go Robert Griffin on the Bulldogs or anything, mind--between the inevitable rust and the Dawgs' excellent secondary (top-10 nationally in both yards and opponent's QB rating allowed), the Gators are going to have to work for their passing yards no matter who's the quarterback. But with Brantley, that work should have some payoff, and that in turn should open some holes for Chris Rainey and the under-used Mike Gillislee. That balance could make a game of things, and if there's anything we've learned about the Cocktail Party over the years, it's that a tight game in the fourth quarter always favors the Gators.

GEORGIA WILL WIN IF:  The Dawgs play their game. On paper, this should be Georgia's year: they have the more coherent offensive identity, the brightest (or at least most consistent) offensive star in Isaiah Crowell, the steadier front seven now that Jarvis Jones has solidified the linebacking, and what appears to be an aerial edge on both sides of the ball. If the Bulldogs were preparing to face an opponent named the Schmorida Schmators in the World's Largest Outdoor Costume Party, we'd call them heavy favorites. But since it's Florida, and the Cocktail Party, all that on paper stuff doesn't matter much. The Dawgs almost never "play their game" against the Gators, with the 3 wins in 20 years to prove it. If Mark Richt can finally get his team right mentally, they'll get the win. But in this rivalry, that's always been a titanic "if."

THE X-FACTOR: the catastrophic quarterbacking error. Curiously, while Aaron Murray's overall performance hasn't regressed from his freshman year, the frequency of his "freshman mistakes" actually has; Stephen Garcia excluded, Murray's as many interceptions (seven) as any other SEC quarterback, and his backbreaking fumble against South Carolina doomed the Dawgs to defeat in that game. Brantley, likewise, may be more prone to the interception bug after his three-week layoff (not to mention facing a secondary in the national top-10 in picks, too). Whichever team can force the opposing singal-caller into a game-changing error is going to have a huge leg up.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 12:46 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Notre Dame vs. Navy

Posted by Tom Fornelli

NOTRE DAME WILL WIN IF: Take care of the ball. It's that simple with the Fighting Irish. After committing ten turnovers in their first two games and starting the season 0-2, the Irish were finally able to limit the turnovers over the next four weeks and, not surprisingly, went 4-0 in that span. Then the turnover bug returned against USC on Saturday night and lo and behold Notre Dame's winning streak came to an end. There's no question that the Irish have more talent on both sides of the ball than Navy, so as long as it doesn't turn the ball over repeatedly, then there's no reason Notre Dame shouldn't win this game.

NAVY WILL WIN IF: Navy doesn't have a complicated formula for success against anybody, and it's a formula that involves controlling the time of possession and wearing down opponents with its option attack. Air Force proved earlier this season that an option attack can find success against Notre Dame, as it rushed for 363 yards and scored 2 of the 3 rushing touchdowns that the Irish defense has allowed this season. So Navy will have to have similar success in order to keep the Irish offense on the sideline, because the problem for Navy this season has been a defense that's allowing 30.3 points per game. I'm not sure Navy can stop the Irish offense, so its best bet will be to keep it off the field.

X-FACTOR: Cierre Wood. During Notre Dame's loss to USC last weekend, I felt one of the biggest reasons the Irish lost was because it abandoned its ground game too early. There's no way that Cierre Wood should only carry the ball 5 times in a game, and Brian Kelly needs to establish a rushing attack early against Navy and keep going to it for 60 minutes. Yes, Notre Dame will have success throwing the ball on Saturday, but when this team becomes one-dimensional on offense, that's when it runs into trouble. 
Posted on: October 25, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 12:25 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Baylor vs. Oklahoma State

Posted by Tom Fornelli

BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: Baylor needs to outscore Oklahoma State, it's that simple. I don't mean that in a sarcastic "you win by scoring more points, duh" way, I mean that in the sense that I don't think there's any reason to believe that Baylor's defense will be able to keep the Oklahoma State offense from putting points, and a lot of them, on the board. So Robert Griffin and company will have to answer the Cowboys touchdown for touchdown. Which, against this Oklahoma State defense, can be done. The key, however, will be for Baylor to protect the football. No defense in the Big 12 has forced more turnovers than Oklahoma State, and that's what makes this team so hard to beat because the Oklahoma State offense takes advantage of those turnovers nearly every time. Griffin has only thrown 2 interceptions this season, and if that total grows on Saturday, then Baylor probably won't be walking off the field with a win.

OKLAHOMA STATE WILL WIN IF: Much like I said above, its defense can continue forcing turnovers. I have no doubts that the Oklahoma State offense will be able to put up points against this Baylor defense, as it's allowing 32.7 points per game. The Baylor offense, however, is just as potent and can strike just as quickly as the Oklahoma State offense. So if the Cowboys defense can add to its takeaway total in this one, that keeps Baylor off the scoreboard, and that's the most important thing it can do on Saturday. It sounds ridiculously simple, and that's because it is. Still, just because it sounds simple doesn't mean it will be easy to do.

X-FACTOR: Terrence Ganoway. We know that with this Baylor offense Robert Griffin is going to get his yards, be it through the ground or through the air. Which means that for Baylor to have a better chance of winning this game, running back Terrence Ganoway is going to have to contribute. In Baylor's 4 wins this season Ganoway has rushed for an average of 124.5 yards per game and has 6 touchdowns. In the 2 losses Ganoway is averaging 36.0 yards a game and has 1 touchdown. This Oklahoma State defense has given up over 186 yards rushing per game and is allowing 4.5 yards per carry. Baylor and Ganoway need to take advantage of that on Saturday.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 12:03 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Kansas State vs. Oklahoma

Posted by Tom Fornelli

KANSAS STATE WILL WIN IF: It can continue to dominate games with its rushing attack. The Wildcats have shown an ability to put a lot of points on the board the last few weeks against Texas Tech and Kansas with their rushing game, and currently Kansas State's rushing attack is 19th in the country. Collin Klein, Kansas State's starting quarterback, may also be the team's best running back as well. He leads the Wildcats with 670 yards rushing this season and has also rushed for 14 touchdowns. Though the best way for Klein and the Wildcats to sustain the rushing attack this weekend may be if Klein presents more of a threat through the air. Oklahoma's front seven is stronger and more athletic than any defense Kansas State has seen this season, and it's only allowing 3.14 yards per carry this season. So if Kansas State's offense is one dimensional, it probably won't find consistent success on Saturday.

OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: As I alluded to above, it needs to keep the Kansas State offense one-dimensional. Collin Klein has proven multiple times this season that he can beat teams with his legs, but he's yet to prove he can do it with his arm. So even though the Oklahoma defense is coming off a performance in which it saw its secondary get torched by Texas Tech and Seth Doege, Klein isn't quite the passer that Doege is. On the season Klein has thrown for 934 yards and 8 touchdowns, but is only completing 59% of his passes. On offense the Sooners can't afford another slow start. They were able to overcome it against Kansas because, well, it's Kansas. Against Texas Tech it just didn't happen. The problem here is that Kansas State's defense has been much better than that of Texas Tech this season and is the best one the Sooners will have seen since the Florida State game.

X-FACTOR: Landry Jones. It may seem strange to call a quarterback who was being hyped for the Heisman before the season started an X-Factor, but the truth is that Jones just hasn't been the quarterback we've expected for the last month. He struggled in Oklahoma's win over Florida State, but ever since his 5 touchdown performance against Ball State, he hasn't been stellar. In the last three games Jones has thrown for 1,142 yards and 11 touchdowns, but he's completing only 59% of his passes. Plus, a lot of those yards and touchdowns came in Oklahoma's comeback attempt against Texas Tech. This Sooners offense needs Jones to be the efficient passer we were all used to the last couple of seasons. If he can do that against Kansas State, then Oklahoma should win the game.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com